Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
Though I am divorced, I am not a big believer that married couples just grow apart. I think what really happens is that they stop paying attention. I’m not referencing couples that have any kind of abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical, or addictions. I am referring to the so-called “normal” marital partners that choose wisely, but just stop doing all the “little” and “big” things that keep partners grounded and loving. Interestingly, most people who get divorced within the first five years of marriage later realize that the split was totally avoidable and unnecessary.
So, how can you keep your marriage happy and intact? Here are six tips from Dr. Laura:
1. Marriage is about giving, not keeping score. There are going to be times when you are making the compromises, and there are going to be times when your spouse is making the compromises. It all evens out eventually. Don’t make your marriage a competition of who does more.
2. There is no marriage without annoyances. Not one. No two people are 100 percent, completely compatible. When you ask older couples what’s the secret to staying together for so many years, one of the things they’ll say is you have to let a lot of things go and ignore what isn’t going to change. You have to stop nitpicking and learn to live with things.
3. Learn which issues can be remedied and which cannot. Not every conflict in a marriage gets resolved. There are always going to be issues with in-laws, children, money, etc. Many people who go into marriage counseling are dissatisfied with the outcome because they think all the problems will be gone forever. Not a chance. The reality is that the small, nitpicky ones are never going to change, and you’re only wasting your breath by getting angry about them. Besides, you knew what you were getting when you were dating this person (That’s why you should date for two years before getting engaged!). If you said, “I do”, you embraced those quirks, so leave your spouse alone.
4. If you are going to fight or argue, make it about the big issues, not the small stuff like socks being left on the floor. Is it really beneath your dignity to pick them up yourself? Jesus was on his hands and knees washing people’s feet. Keep that image in mind when you think you’re above picking up a pair of socks.
5. For every negative thought, word or action on your part, you need at least FIVE positive ones. Make small gestures and make them often. Always think about repairing the relationship even when it’s not damaged. After all, that’s what our bodies do. Even when we’re not sick or injured our bodies are constantly replacing dead cells. You’ve got to do the same thing in your marriage except the balance must be even more heavily stacked in repair mode. How do you do that? With humor, affection, and kindness.
6. See your spouse’s point of view. When you are aggravated with your spouse, take on the role of your spouse’s defense attorney. Maybe they’re exhausted from sitting in traffic after being hounded at work all day. Maybe they’ve had a particularly stressful day with the kids. If you take each other’s side instead of instantly attacking, there’s going to be a lot more peace.
You made vows to love, honor, and cherish your spouse, so do it! Not just when it’s convenient. Don’t nitpick, blame or constantly criticize. Happily married couples don’t live to fight another day. By spending most of your time being positive, you’ll feel better, your spouse will feel better, the marriage will be healthier, and the kids will be happier too.
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